The guitar in the photo is a Kremona nylon string, acoustic/electric. It’s made in Europe by a company that also makes some of the finest violins in the world. Rosanne gave it to me for Christmas a couple of years ago. She knew I had admired it at Nicholson’s Music in Folsom. I love the unique acoustic sound it has because of the oval sound hole, kind of like the nylon string version of the guitars Django Reinhardt used to play. And it sounds great plugged in.
Last week, I noticed the neck was starting to bow pretty badly, even though I keep it in a humidity-controlled room. I took it to Nicholson’s and they said it needed a total neck reset. Despite their extensive luthier staff, they did not have the equipment to do it. They said to contact the company and see if they would do it.
I emailed the local office for Kremona and they asked me to bring it into their office. It was just a 20-minute drive so I hopped in my car and dropped it off. I didn’t get a receipt, but within an hour I received an email telling me they would replace the guitar. I was amazed and pleased. It was over 2 years old and I figured there would be a replacement charge. When I picked it up they just handed me a new guitar at no charge. They said my guitar had some serious problems and it was just easier to replace it with a new one. I’m also pretty sure they contacted Nicholson’s, who would have told them I was a good customer.
While I always liked the guitar, this incident made me a real Kremona fan. Their company and guitars will always get the highest recommendation from me! As will Nicholson’s Music!
Great Customer Service Takes a Lot of Time
I wish more companies had this kind of dedication to customer service. At QVC, I was the only host who answered all my own email. I did have an assistant to do the typing and sorting, but I carefully answered all the product-related questions. It took an average of 6 to 8 hours each week, but it was important to me to serve the people who spent their hard-earned money buying products I was presenting. I answered so many computer-related questions, I’m sure I could always get a job at an IT help desk.
I was even nice to people who were complaining about me or something I said. Most customers viewed it as their show and wanted to have input. I was always positive, but I also had no desire to become their punching bag. I would explain what I had done and/or said and apologize if it were appropriate. If they wrote back again, I would pleasantly suggest they write to my superiors with their complaints. Some of them did and I have the memos to prove it.
Sure, I wanted to tell them to go “F” themselves, but nobody would have won that confrontation, least of all me. I can just hear the conversation with my superiors – “Steve, did you tell Mary from Des Moines to go “F” herself?” And I would probably still be getting memos about it today. But Mary, if you’re reading this…
Chestnuts Roasting on the New Jersey Turnpike
Great customer service is the backbone of any successful company. Overall, QVC had an excellent commitment to customer service. Granted, my OCD might have kicked in the Christmas Eve I drove 3 hours each way to deliver a computer to a QVC customer. They bought it as a gift for their 13-year-old son and their order was misplaced. It was the early 1990’s and not everything was on computer so human error kicked in. While QVC offered to have the unit delivered via Express the day after Christmas, I figured that would really wreck their son’s Christmas morning if it wasn’t there. They bought the computer from me and I felt responsible.
I offered to take the computer to them in North Jersey and QVC agreed. I even set it up for them when I dropped it off. A radio station was playing all the classic Christmas shows from the 30’s and 40’s for my drive up and back, so I was in geek heaven.
The customers wrote a great letter to QVC’s CEO. They kept in touch during my time at QVC and even asked for a recommendation when they were buying their son a notebook computer a few years later. I’m sure our extra effort in customer service was the one of the reasons they continued to shop with us.
The $11,000,000 Hour
I always viewed the time I spent preparing for my QVC shows as another form of customer service. If I could tell our customers exactly how a product would benefit their lives, I would not only sell more, returns would be minimized because they would know exactly what they were buying.
Our Christmas computer Today’s Special Value in 2000 was a huge winner. It was the fastest, most powerful computer we had ever sold. Two weeks before the presentation I started working on my presentation. Thanks to my OCD, I tracked my prep time. It took me 38 hours to craft and rehearse a really different style of computer presentation. Everything I demoed not only showed how powerful the computer was, it also demonstrated just how the customers would use it in their lifestyle. Each demo logically led to another.
Once I had crafted the presentation, I rehearsed it several times. The one hour (our first one-hour presentation) went off without a hitch. We sold over $11,000,000 worth of the computer in one hour. Prior to that, we had 24-hour days that didn’t gross as much. And the computer had the lowest return rate in our history.
Customer service takes on many different identities. When a company recognizes that, their success is almost assured.
Take the time to serve your customers before, during and after the sale. If not, make sure you keep that “Going Out of Business” sign dusted off and ready to hang.
© 2018 Steve Bryant – No portion of this or any blog can be reproduced or copied and posted on any online site or read aloud on any audio or video media without the express permission of the author.